Commercial, Industrial, Regulation, Sourcing Renewables, Wind  -  February 9, 2017

Mired in politics, Amazon wind farm fully operational

Despite a last-minute attempt to halt it, North Carolina's first commercial-scale wind farm, the 300-MW Amazon Wind Farm U.S. East, is now fully operational.

The $400 million project most recently made headlines after a group of North Carolina lawmakers sent a letter to the Trump administration asking it to either squash or require that significant changes be made to the wind farm, which they argued poses a threat to national security. Construction of the project, which faced prior opposition but did receive all necessary regulatory approvals, including from the Pentagon regarding its location near a military radar installation, began in 2015. 

According to a Feb. 9 news release, the facility reached full commercial operation this month and first began delivering power in December 2016. 

The wind farm was developed by Iberdrola S.A. subsidiary Avangrid Renewables, and Amazon Web Services has contracted to buy 100% of the facility's output to power its Virginia data centers. Amazon Web Services is the cloud computing arm of Amazon.com Inc., and has a long-term commitment to achieve 100% renewable energy usage for their global infrastructure footprint.

"At the close of 2016 we announced that AWS had achieved 40% renewable energy and set a new goal to achieve 50% by the end of 2017 in a continued march toward our long-term commitment of achieving 100% renewable energy usage for our global infrastructure footprint," Nat Sahlstrom, director of AWS energy strategy, said in a statement. "We're very excited that Amazon Wind Farm U.S. East is live and delivering energy to the grid powering our current and future AWS data centers and are excited to continue to accelerate our work in this space."

According to the news release, the 18-month construction of the facility put more than 30 North Carolina-based companies to work, featured a peak of more than 500 workers and resulted in more than $18 million spent locally by Avangrid Renewables. The total of landowner payments and taxes will begin injecting more than $1.1 million into the local economy each year.

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